Procedure : 2014/2150(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0208/2015

Texts tabled :

A8-0208/2015

Debates :

PV 11/04/2016 - 18
CRE 11/04/2016 - 18

Votes :

PV 12/04/2016 - 5.11
CRE 12/04/2016 - 5.11

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2016)0104

REPORT     
PDF 432kWORD 162k
24 June 2015
PE 551.792v03-00 A8-0208/2015

on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook

(2014/2150(INI))

Committee on Legal Affairs

Rapporteur: Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
 OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook

(2014/2150(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking(1),

–  having regard to the practical arrangements agreed on 22 July 2011 between the competent services of the European Parliament and the Council for the implementation of Article 294(4) TFEU in the event of agreements at first reading,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU regulatory fitness and subsidiarity and proportionality – 19th report on better lawmaking covering the year 2011(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on the revision of the Commission's impact assessment guidelines and the role of the SME test(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2012 on follow-up on the delegation of legislative powers and the control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2012 on the 18th report on better legislation – application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (2010)(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality and smart regulation(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2011 on guaranteeing independent impact assessments(7),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Smart Regulation of 4 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission report on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook (COM(2014)0368),

–  having regard to the Commission’s previous communications on EU Regulatory Fitness (COM(2012)0746 and COM(2013)0685),

–  having regard to the Commission report on subsidiarity and proportionality (19th report on Better Lawmaking covering the year 2011) (COM(2012)0373),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Smart regulation – Responding to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (COM(2013)0122),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document on monitoring and consultation on smart regulation for SMEs (SWD(2013)0060),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on smart regulation in the European Union (COM(2010)0543),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Stakeholder Consultation Guidelines 2014,

–  having regard to the final report of 24 July 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’, and in particular the dissenting opinion in Annex 12 from four members of the High Level Group with a background in advocacy for workers, for public health, for the environment and for consumers,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 26 November 2014(8),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda’ (COM(2015)0215),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation’ (COM(2015)0216),

–  having regard to the Commission decision establishing the REFIT Platform (C(2015)3261) and the Commission communication entitled ‘The REFIT Platform - Structure and Functioning’ (C(2015)3260),

–  having regard to the decision of the President of the European Commission on the establishment of an independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board (C(2015)3263), the Commission communication ‘Regulatory Scrutiny Board - Mission, tasks and staff’ (C(2015)3262), and the Commission communication ‘Standard Explanatory Memorandum’ (C(2015)3264/2),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled ‘Better Regulation Guidelines’ (SWD(2015)0111),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0208/2015),

A.   whereas the REFIT Programme is a key component of the new Commission strategy for better lawmaking;

B.   whereas the REFIT Programme aims to consolidate better lawmaking procedures, to simplify EU law and reduce administrative and/or regulatory burdens, and to embark on a path towards good governance grounded in evidence-based policymaking, in which impact assessments and ex-post evaluations play an important role, without replacing political decisions;

C.   whereas the Commission has set up a new Refit Platform to support its work in the context of the REFIT Programme, which is made up of two groups: the ‘government group’, comprising high-level experts from the civil service in each Member State, and the ‘stakeholder group’, comprising up to 20 experts, two of whom represent the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, with the remaining experts representing business, including SMEs, the social partners and civil society organisations;

D.   whereas the annual REFIT scoreboard allows for the assessment of progress made in all policy areas and of each initiative identified by the Commission, including actions taken by Parliament and the Council;

E.  whereas the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking of 2003 has been outdated by the current legislative environment created by the Treaty of Lisbon;

F.  whereas in the past years the better regulation agenda has nevertheless contributed to improving legislative practices; whereas the large number of different names and programmes introduced by the Commission in the area, such as ‘better regulation’, ‘better lawmaking’, ‘smart regulation’, ‘regulatory fitness’, ‘Think Small First’, ‘fitness checks’ and ‘ABR+’, do not provide sufficient clarity and transparency as regards the aims of the measures, particularly for citizens, and should therefore be better combined ;

G.   whereas, with its communication ‘Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda’ of 19 May 2015, the Commission has now proposed a coherent holistic approach to better lawmaking that takes account of the entire policy cycle of lawmaking and requires targeted interaction among all the institutions, and whereas for this reason the communication will be closely studied by Parliament in order to achieve the best possible results in the interest of Union citizens;

H.  whereas the aims and objectives of the Union spelled out in Article 3 TEU are all of equal import; whereas the Commission underlines that the REFIT programme does not call into question existing policy objectives, nor should it impact negatively on the health and safety of citizens, consumers, workers or the environment;

I.  whereas in the second half of 2014 the Commission conducted public consultations on the revision of its Impact Assessment guidelines and on its Stakeholder Consultation guidelines;

J.  whereas the Commission, in establishing its work programme for 2015, for the first time applied the so-called principle of political discontinuity as justification for withdrawing a huge number of pending legislative proposals;

K.   whereas in its work programme for 2015 the Commission plans to focus its activities on the major economic and social challenges, and its new structure aims to guarantee a more coherent policy approach, thereby increasing transparency in the EU and thus acceptance among citizens;

Better regulation

1.  Notes the decision of Commission President Juncker to entrust the First Vice-President of the Commission with the portfolio of better regulation, which responds to calls by the European Parliament and underlines the high political importance of this topic; expects that this designation will lead to European legislation which is of the best possible quality, meets the expectations of citizens and stakeholders and ensures that public policy objectives, including consumer, environmental, social and health and safety standards, will not be jeopardised;

2.   Points out that better regulation should encompass the ‘culture’ of public administration at all levels of the European Union, bearing in mind the excessive levels of red tape EU-wide and the need to simplify legislation, and should include the implementation and application of Union acts at European level, as well as at national, regional and local level, in order to ensure good administration and ‘Europe-friendly conduct’ at all levels;

3.  Underlines that the Commission should prioritise the development of certain measures and should focus on the quality of legislation and better enforcement of existing legislation rather than on the number of legislative acts; underlines in this regard that costs should not be the decisive factor but that quality of legislation is the only appropriate benchmark and that the REFIT programme must not be used to undermine sustainability or any social, labour, environmental or consumer standards;

4.  Suggests that the Commission takes the introduction of “sunset clauses” into consideration in time-limited legislative initiatives, on condition that this does not lead to legal uncertainty, and include if appropriate “review clauses” in legislative measures to regularly reassess the continued relevance of legislative measures at European level;

5.  Stresses that a European standard generally replaces 28 national standards, thereby underpinning the single market and cutting down on bureaucracy;

6.   Welcomes the package of measures of 19 May 2015 aimed at better regulation; supports the continued commitment shown by the Commission to the better lawmaking agenda; underlines that the work foreseen in the REFIT Communication should be seen as an ongoing process, ensuring that the legislation in force at European level is fit for purpose, achieves the shared objective of the legislators and meets the expectations of citizens, in particular employees, businesses, and other stakeholders;

7.  Notes the Commission’s commitment to negotiate a new interinstitutional agreement on better lawmaking that takes account of the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty and the Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission, which consolidate best practices in areas such as legislative planning, impact assessments, systematic ex-post checks of EU legislation and the implementation and handling of delegated and implementing acts, and stresses its resolve to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year;

8.   Welcomes the confirmation given by the Commission that its better regulation strategy is not aimed at deregulating particular policy areas or calling into question values to which we attach importance, such as social protection, environmental protection and fundamental rights, including the right to health;

9.  Acknowledges the long-term intensive work of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders, which has submitted proposals for reducing administrative burdens to the European Commission and identified best practice with a view to implementing EU legislation in the Member States in as unbureaucratic a way as possible; takes note that four members of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders have come out against several of the conclusions presented in the Group’s final report on administrative burdens and produced a dissenting opinion; expects the Commission to take account of the concerns of all stakeholders involved in the process;

10.  Stresses the importance of social dialogue and respect for the autonomy of the social partners; underlines in particular with regard to Article 9 TFEU that the social partners may, in accordance with Article 155 TFEU, conclude agreements that can lead to EU legislation at the joint request of the signatory parties; expects the Commission to respect the autonomy of the parties and their negotiated agreements, and to take their concerns seriously, and stresses that the better regulation agenda should not be a pretext for disregarding or bypassing agreements reached between the social partners, and would therefore reject any impact assessments of social partner agreements;

11.   Points out that during the previous parliamentary term the choice between implementing acts and delegated acts caused numerous interinstitutional disputes; considers it important, therefore, for specific guidelines to be drawn up, as requested by the European Parliament in its report adopted on 25 February 2012;

12.   Welcomes the announcement by the Commission that it intends to simplify the administration of grants under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Structural and Investment Funds and Horizon 2020;

Transparency and stakeholder consultations

13.  Welcomes the recognition by the Commission of the important role played by the consultation process in the REFIT programme; points out that, according to Article 11(2) TEU, all EU institutions are required to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society; calls on the institutions to pay special attention to the obligatory and regular dialogue with representative associations, and with civil society, in the negotiations on a new interinstitutional agreement;

14.   Observes that by means of greater transparency the functioning of the EU can be rendered more efficient and civil society’s confidence in the EU strengthened;

15.  Welcomes in this connection the Commission’s affirmation that dialogue with citizens, the social partners and other economic and civil society stakeholders contributes to ensuring transparent, effective and coherent EU legislation, and supports the Commission’s intention of indicating more precisely how it arrives at its proposals, for example in the form of legislative texts or Commission communications;

16.  Observes that, in its better lawmaking strategy, the Commission significantly upgrades the role of public consultation; notes that in future the Commission will carry out a 12-week public consultation exercise (a) before drafting new legislative proposals and (b) when existing legislative provisions are assessed and their suitability checked and (c) on roadmaps and ex-ante impact assessments; notes furthermore that, in addition, after a proposal has been adopted, the Commission will give citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the Commission proposal within eight weeks and will forward these positions to the Council and Parliament;

17.   Calls on the Commission, against this background, to conduct a balanced and transparent assessment of the positions of, and feedback from, all participants in the consultation procedure and in particular to ensure that public consultations cannot be misused for their own purposes by well-funded and -organised stakeholder organisations; calls on the Commission to publish its conclusions from consultations;

18.   Observes that impact assessments should be published only when the Commission has adopted the political initiative concerned; in the interests of the transparency of Commission decisions, considers it necessary that impact assessments should also be published when it has taken the decision not to submit a legislative proposal;

19.  Notes that the Economic and Social Committee, which enjoys consultative status, plays a key role in representing civil society; notes that the Committee of the Regions, which likewise enjoys consultative status, plays a key role in representing regional and local authorities in the EU and in assessing the implementation of EU legislation; notes that both advisory bodies may, under current legislation, be consulted in advance by Parliament, Council and Commission in all cases where Parliament and the Council deem it useful; takes the view that, if they are properly consulted on specific issues sufficiently well in advance and advantage is taken of their specific areas of expertise, this can contribute to the purposes of better legislation;

20.  Considers that there should be stronger involvement on the part of regional and local authorities in EU policy making, in particular by involving Member State expertise and experience at regional and local levels at an early stage in the preparation of legislation; notes that all the institutions must observe the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in their legislative work;

21.   Welcomes the Commission’s intention of making the legislative process more transparent and involving the public and stakeholder representatives more in the whole process;

22.   Welcomes the Commission’s decision in future also to conduct four-week public consultation exercises on draft delegated acts and major implementing acts before the Member States vote on their position in the committee responsible;

23.  Calls on the Commission to review its evaluation guidelines by stepping up the participation and consultation of stakeholders and using the most direct method in order to enable EU citizens to take part in decision-making;

24.   Notes the new ‘Lighten the Load – Have Your Say’ section of the Commission’s webpages on better lawmaking and calls for a balanced and transparent examination by the Commission and by the new REFIT Platform of the comments received there; believes, however, that the REFIT panel should not be too burdensome in its processes and deliberations, but should be a body capable of fast responses as well as more detailed work in the European legislation process; is of the opinion that consultation via this Commission website cannot replace public consultations of stakeholders;

Impact assessments and European added value

25.  Notes that impact assessments constitute an important tool for supporting decision-making in all the EU institutions and play a significant role in better regulation; in this regard, calls on the Commission and Member States to be more rigorous in fulfilling their commitments and in assessing the impact of future and existing legislation; underlines, however, that such assessments are not a substitute for political assessments and decisions and that the freedom of Members of the European Parliament to carry out their political work must not be restricted in any way;

26.   Believes that a competitiveness assessment should form a significant part of the impact assessment process; considers that the draft revised guidelines should contain guidance on how impacts on competitiveness should be assessed and weighted in the final analysis; supports a standing presumption that proposals with a negative impact on competitiveness should not be adopted by the Commission unless evidence supporting significant unquantifiable benefits is presented;

27.   Believes that better regulation principles should apply to decisions on secondary legislation as well as primary legislation; calls on the Commission, where appropriate, to accompany delegated and implementing acts with an impact assessment, including consultation with interested parties and stakeholders;

28.  Believes that impact assessments must be comprehensive, that there must be a balanced evaluation of economic, social and environmental consequences in particular, and that impact on the fundamental rights of citizens and equality between women and men must be assessed; stresses that the cost-benefit analysis is only one of many criteria;

29.  Points out that in many Member States, such as Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany, independent bodies provide governments with constructive input in connection with legislative processes, with the aim of cutting red tape for business and citizens and of measurably and verifiably reducing costs related to obligations to provide information; notes that the best practices and experience of existing better regulation bodies could be taken into account; takes note of the conversion of the Commission’s Impact Assessment Board (IAB) into an independent ‘Regulatory Scrutiny Board’ (RSB) and expects that the inclusion of independent experts will have an advantageous effect on the impact assessment process within the Commission; insists that the Regulatory Scrutiny Board has only an exclusively advisory role and must not issue binding opinions; insist that impact assessments must be consistent and take any changes introduced at the inter-service consultation phase into consideration and should be based inter alia on estimating what the additional costs would be for the Member States if there were no solution at European level; considers that the opinion of the RSB should accompany the final legislative proposal; proposes to discuss in the forthcoming negotiation on the interinstitutional agreement the idea whether a Regulatory Control Council might be of common interest for the institutions as a purely advisory body;

30.   Welcomes the fact that the Council Working Parties are now, at an early stage of the debate on specific legislative proposals, to consider the relevant Commission impact assessments on the basis of an indicative check list: regrets, however, that the Council Secretariat does not yet have an impact assessment unit of its own and believes that the aforementioned solution could contribute towards the Council fulfilling its obligations in assessing any substantive amendments to the Commission proposals;

31.  Points out that Parliament has established an in-house Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value, which offers a host of ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment services for parliamentary committees, assesses the added value of prospective or current EU policies, and assesses science and technology policy options; notes that, according to information from the Commission, about twenty Parliament in-house impact assessments have been conducted in connection with changes to Commission proposals; reminds Parliament’s specialist committees to make more consistent use of in-house impact assessment instruments, particularly where substantial changes to the original Commission proposal are being envisaged ; points out, however, this must not lead to a restriction of the room for manoeuvre available to Members of the European Parliament;

32.   Stresses the need to take account of each of the principles upon which the Union is founded, including the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on all EU institutions always to consider the short- and long-term effects of legislation;

33.   Notes that a cooling-off period taken after the conclusion of negotiations but in advance of a final vote – currently used for lawyer-linguistic revision – could be further utilised for the completion of an impact assessment and subsidiarity check;

34.  Believes that all EU institutions should develop a common methodological approach to impact assessments, and calls on them to include this as a priority in the upcoming negotiations on a new interinstitutional agreement; stresses the fact that the legislative prerogatives of Parliament and the Council to amend a proposal from the Commission must remain undiminished;

35.   Urges the Commission to increase its consultation procedure, both public and private, with all stakeholders, including consumers, when preparing delegated and implementing acts, with a view to considering how to enhance awareness of proposals at a provisional stage;

SMEs and Think Small First

36.  Notes the Commission’s commitment to further improving the SME test, particularly in view of the fact that the more than 20 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99 % of all businesses in the EU and that, as such, SMEs are the cornerstone of economic activity, growth and employment; supports consideration of adapted agreements and more flexible SME impact assessment rules, provided that it can be shown that they do not undermine the effectiveness of legal provisions and that exemptions or more flexible provisions do not encourage fragmentation of the internal market or hamper access to it; welcomes, therefore, the Commission's commitment to give consideration to more flexible rules for SMEs, including an outright exemption for microbusinesses, provided it is appropriate and feasible and effective realisation of the social, ecological and economic objectives of proposed legal provisions is not undermined ;

37.  Calls on the Commission not to abandon its ambitious targets of reducing the administrative burden on SMEs and thereby helping to establish a basis for the creation of quality jobs, and urges that measures be taken to ensure that objectives concerning the public interest including user-friendly, ecological, social, health and safety and gender-equality standards are not compromised; stresses that the reduction of administrative burdens must not lead to a reduction in employment standards or an increase in precarious employment contracts, and that workers in SMEs and micro-enterprises must enjoy the same treatment and high standard of protection as workers in larger companies;

38.  Stresses that evaluation of new rules regarding their impact on SMEs must be in no way detrimental to workers' rights;

39.   Stresses the need for more clearly worded regulations that can be implemented in a simple manner and can help all actors operate within the rule of law; underlines that simpler and smarter regulation can facilitate consistent transposition and more effective and uniform enforcement by Member States;

Ex-post evaluations

40.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is making ex-post analysis an integral part of better regulation; stresses that, in the interests of legal certainty for citizens and businesses, such analyses should be carried out within a sufficient time-frame, preferably several years after the deadline for transposition into national law; recalls, however, that ex-post evaluations should never replace the Commission's duty as guardian of the Treaties to monitor effectively and in a timely fashion the application of Union law by Member States and to take all necessary steps to ensure good application thereof;

41. Underscores the importance of ex-post assessment and policy performance appraisal for an evaluation of the implementation and efficiency of EU legislation and EU policies in the light of the legislative authority's intended outcomes;

42.   Considers that national parliaments should be involved in the ex-post evaluation of new legislation, as this would also benefit the Commission’s reports and help explore the different national challenges posed by individual laws and regulations;

The implementation of EU legislation by Member States

43.  Notes that, according to the Commission, one third of the regulatory and administrative burden of EU legislation follows from transposition measures undertaken by the Member States;

44.  Acknowledges that, in the case of directives, it is the prerogative of the Member States to decide whether to adopt higher social, environmental and consumer protection standards at national level than those minimum standards of protection agreed upon at EU level, and welcomes any decision to do so; reaffirms that such higher standards must not be regarded as 'gold plating'; calls, however, on the competent national authorities to be aware of the possible consequence of the practice of so-called ‘gold plating’, by which unnecessary bureaucratic burdens are added to EU legislation, since this may lead to a misconception of the legislative activity of the EU, which in turn might foster Euroscepticism; calls, for the sake of user-friendliness, on Member States to waive unnecessary administrative rules on site in the implementation of directives and regulations;

45.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to intensify the exchange of best practices in the implementation and application of EU directives; considers that this would encourage stakeholders and local and regional authorities to participate in determining the difficulties encountered in implementing EU policy at local, regional and national level;

46.   Stresses that Parliament, as one arm of the legislative authority, has an interest in understanding what the impact of EU legislation actually is after it has been implemented; calls on the Commission, therefore, to grant Parliament full access to any assessments in that connection, including the source data collected and preparatory documents;

47.  Calls on the Commission, in view of the serious and persistent problems which arise in the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, including problems of distortion of competition, to review the scientific basis of this regulation and how useful and realistic it is and, if appropriate, to eliminate the concept of nutrient profiles; considers that the aims of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, such as ensuring that information which is provided concerning foods is true and that specific indications are given concerning fat, sugar and salt content, have now been achieved by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers;

48.   Points to the Joint Political Declaration of 28 September 2011 of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents and to the Joint Political Declaration of 27 October 2011 of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on explanatory documents, and calls on the Commission to ensure that Parliament has access to explanatory documents;

The Commission’s withdrawal of pending legislative proposals

49.  Notes that, in its 2015 working programme the newly elected Commission has, for the first time, put all pending legislative initiatives to the test under the principle of political discontinuity;

50.   Points out that the Court of Justice affirmed in its judgment of 14 April 2015(9) that the Commission may at any time in the course of the adoption of a Union act under the ordinary legislative procedure withdraw a proposal as long as the Council has not acted; calls, therefore, for the sake of interinstitutional balance, on the Commission, in the event of withdrawal, to first consult Parliament, especially after the first reading, and to duly take into account its positions; refers in this context in particular to Parliament’s resolutions of 15 January 2015;

51.   Points out, furthermore, that the Court of Justice, in the same judgment, takes up the Council's arguments to the effect that the Commission, in the event of the withdrawal of a legislative proposal, must comply with the principle of conferral of powers, the principle of institutional balance and the principle of sincere cooperation, as laid down in Article 13(2) TEU, and with the principle of democracy, as laid down in Article 10(1) and (2) TEU;

52.  Highlights the importance of avoiding legislative duplication;

o

o  o

53.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1)

OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.

(2)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0061.

(3)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0069.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0127.

(5)

OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 117.

(6)

OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 87.

(7)

OJ C 380 E, 11.12.2012, p. 31.

(8)

EESC document INT/750.

(9)

Judgment of the Court of Justice of 14 April 2015 in Case C-409/13, Council v Commission [ECLI:EU:C:2015:217].


OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (28.5.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook

(2014/2150(INI))

Rapporteur: Anthea McIntyre

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.   Recognises that REFIT represents an important first step towards simplifying legislation and reducing administrative burdens of regulation for businesses and eliminating barriers to growth and job creation;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s better regulation package and considers it to be an important instrument for better regulation; calls for REFIT to focus and concentrate on quality legislation and its ability to protect and promote the interests of EU citizens; notes that impact assessments should also evaluate the social and environmental consequences of non-legislation and its impact on the fundamental rights of citizens at EU level; stresses that the improvement of regulation should be on the basis of quality as well as quantity;

3.  Stresses the fact that when evaluations and regulatory fitness checks of legislation are carried out, fundamental and social rights should be given more weight over economic considerations;

4.   Recalls that four Members of the High Level Group on Administrative Burden – representing the views of workers, public health, the environment and consumers – adopted a dissenting opinion with regard to the Final Report of the High Level Group of 24 July 2014(1);

5.  Supports the Commission’s commitment on cutting red tape; believes that cutting tape should be evidence-based, and should under no circumstances diminish the protection for workers;

6.  Considers REFIT a first step towards reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens and eliminating barriers to growth and job creation; stresses, however, that ‘better regulation’ must not be used as a pretext for deregulation in order to subvert workers’ or consumers’ rights;

7.  Points to the horizontal clauses in Article 9 and 11 of the TFEU, which shall be taken into account when defining and implementing policies and activities at EU level; underlines not only the need to assess financial factors and short-term effects, but also the long-term value of legislation, such as the reduction of adverse health effects or the preservation of ecosystems, which are often difficult to quantify; deplores that, as a consequence, social and environmental benefits and costs are often not taken into account;

8.  Urges the Commission to provide clear definitions regarding REFIT-related activities, such as the ‘evaluation’, ‘simplification’, ‘consolidation’ and ‘targeted review’ of existing legislation, in order to ensure greater transparency;

9.  Welcomes efforts to simplify the legislative procedure as a whole whilst maintaining high standards; stresses the need for simpler, more clearly-worded legislation that removes complexity and can be implemented in a simple manner in order to improve compliance and better protect our workers; recalls the importance of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

10.  Reminds the Commission of the commitment it made in the Small Business Act to implement the ‘think small first principle’ in its policy-making; believes that this principle should reduce additional administrative and regulatory burdens that all too often impede the proper functioning of our SMEs, hinder their competitiveness and restrict their capacity for innovation and job creation; calls on the Commission urgently to review the Small Business Act to see how it can be improved to work more effectively, in line with the better regulation agenda;

11.  Stresses the need for a bottom-up approach to better regulation; recalls Parliament’s request to establish a new group on better regulation composed of stakeholders and national experts; welcomes the Commission’s proposals to establish a European Stakeholder Platform on better regulation; emphasise that the platform should consist of relevant stakeholders, including official representatives from the civil society, the social partners, consumer organisations and the business community, especially SMEs, which account for 80 % of European job-creation; stresses that the European Stakeholder Platform must be visible and independent, and must be able to address the administrative burdens caused by legislative proposals and the cost of compliance, and must respect of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; stresses that proposals from this platform should be actively considered by the Commission; underlines that the platform should also propose initiatives to improve regulation and help Member States implement EU legislation at national level;

12.  Notes that legislation on employment and health and safety represents minimum standards of protection of workers which Member States can go beyond; recalls that gold-plating by the Member States can add complexity to regulation and further reduce compliance; believes that transposition measures must be clear and simple; recommends that Member States avoid adding to the administrative burden when transposing EU legislation to national law;

13.  Stresses that smart regulation must comply with the social dimension of the internal market as provided for by the Treaty; underlines that the REFIT agenda should not be used in order to undermine agreements reached by social partners at the European level; stresses that the autonomy of social partners needs to be respected; recalls that Article 155 of the TFEU guarantees that social partner agreements become EU legislation at the joint request of the signatory parties; welcomes, in this respect, the statement by Commission President Juncker that the social market economy can only work if there is social dialogue, and that he would like to be a President of social dialogue;

14.  Insists that workers have the right to occupational health and safety protection and minimum working conditions, regardless of whether the workplace is in a small, medium-sized or large enterprise;

15.  Calls on the Commission to continue negotiations on the Maternity Leave Directive;

16.  Calls on the Commission to increase the protection of workers; calls on the Commission, in particular, to present a proposal on muscular skeletal disorders and environmental tobacco smoke, and to make necessary updates to the list of carcinogens and mutagens.

17.  Calls on the Commission to consult Parliament and other stakeholders before withdrawing any legislative proposals;

18.  Stresses the need to ensure predictability, legal certainty and transparency in order for REFIT not to become a source of permanent legal uncertainty; underlines that any changes to legislation must be thoroughly considered, also in a long-term perspective; notes that the principle of political discontinuity, and the withdrawal of existing legislation, should not give rise to doubts regarding the political desirability of social goals;

19.  Regrets that the Commission is reluctant to scrutinise the proposed directive on the single member company with limited liability (SUP) in the context of REFIT; warns that the proposed directive could cause serious problems by providing new and easy ways to establish letterbox companies, as well as by undermining workers’ social rights and avoiding the payment of social contributions;

20.  Is concerned about the ongoing evaluation of current working time legislation with the aim of simplifying it; suggests instead that efforts be made to improve and correct implementation;

21.  Rejects the proposal to withdraw aid schemes for the distribution of fruit (bananas), vegetables and milk in schools;

22.  Calls on the Commission to review the SME test to ensure that it does not risk lowering the health, safety, employment rights and protections of workers in SMEs;

23.  Calls on the Commission urgently to consider measures to address the impact that recently implemented EU VAT rules for digital services are having on micro-enterprises, particularly as regards the significant administrative burden, in order to allow the digital economy to thrive;

24.  Recalls that Commissioner Biénkowska, in her confirmation hearing, stated that the Commission would be committed to consider the withdrawal of any proposal that Member States find is based on a flawed impact assessment or that contains elements that have not been considered in full; calls on the Commission to confirm its commitment to this in writing;

25.  Points out that the impact of legislation on large enterprises and on SMEs may differ, a fact that should be kept in mind during the drafting process; stresses that all employees have a right to the highest level of protection regarding health and safety in the workplace, regardless of the size of the employer or the underlying contract;

26.  Supports the continuous work carried out by the Commission, such as when it conducts better impact and ex-post assessments throughout the legislative process, further strengthens the independence, objectivity and neutrality of impact assessments and ensures greater transparency with regard to the extent to which draft laws take account of comments submitted during consultations; calls for effective monitoring of legislation in order to verify that it is having the desired effect, and to identify areas where there are inconsistencies between, as well as ineffective measures linking, existing and new rules that could place significant burdens and costs on businesses seeking to comply; stresses the need for better enforcement of existing legislation;

27.  Warns against the implementation of sunset clauses in legislation, as they risk creating legal uncertainty and legislative discontinuity;

28.  Believes that better regulation principles should apply to decisions on secondary legislation as well as on primary legislation; calls on the Commission to take appropriate steps to ensure that all implementing and delegated acts in the area of employment and social affairs are open for wider scrutiny in a simple, clear and transparent manner;

29.  Calls on the Commission to produce its detailed impact assessment on the Working Time Directive; is also concerned about the burdens placed on SMEs by the implementation of the REACH Directive and its consequent impact on employment in European SMEs in the chemical industry; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s willingness to ease the burden on SMEs complying with the REACH Directive, without compromising on health, safety and employment standards;

30.  Points to the fact that there are no satisfactory criteria to measure ‘efficiency’ and ‘costs’; notes that these terms are not adequate in terms of occupational accidents and disease; stresses that this could lead to decisions taken by administration and controllers, thereby circumventing the legitimate, democratically elected legislators;

31.  Recalls Article 155 TFEU; calls on the social partners to embrace better regulation tools, increase the use of impact assessments in their negotiations and refer agreements proposing legislative action to the Commissions Impact Assessment Board;

32.  Opposes the setting of a net target for reducing regulatory costs, as this ignores both the aim of regulation and its corresponding benefits;

33.  Urges Parliament’s specialist committees to make more consistent use of in-house impact assessment instruments, particularly where substantial changes to the original Commission proposal are being envisaged;

34.  Expresses its strong support for further measures in the area of public procurement, such as the promotion of smaller procurement parcels to assist SMEs and micro-enterprises to compete for public procurement tenders;

35.  Considers the terms ‘simplification’ and ‘burden reduction’ to be void of meaning in a situation that is ever more complex; stresses that new technologies and procedures could endanger the health of workers, requiring new protection measures that could, in turn, add to the administrative burden;

36.  Urges the Commission to assess the social and environmental consequences, as well as the impact of its policy on the fundamental rights of citizens, in a better way, keeping in mind the cost of non-legislation at European level as well as the fact that cost-benefit analyses provide only one of many possible sets of criteria;

37.  Is convinced that sound impact assessments constitute an important tool in support of decision-making and play a significant role in better regulation; underlines, however, that such assessments cannot substitute political assessments and decisions;

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.5.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

28

25

0

Members present for the final vote

Laura Agea, Guillaume Balas, Tiziana Beghin, Brando Benifei, Enrique Calvet Chambon, David Casa, Ole Christensen, Lampros Fountoulis, Agnes Jongerius, Jan Keller, Ádám Kósa, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Patrick Le Hyaric, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Javi López, Thomas Mann, Dominique Martin, Anthea McIntyre, Joëlle Mélin, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Emilian Pavel, Georgi Pirinski, Terry Reintke, Claude Rolin, Anne Sander, Sven Schulze, Siôn Simon, Jutta Steinruck, Yana Toom, Ulrike Trebesius, Ulla Tørnæs, Marita Ulvskog, Renate Weber, Tatjana Ždanoka, Jana Žitňanská, Inês Cristina Zuber

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniela Aiuto, Georges Bach, Amjad Bashir, Heinz K. Becker, Lynn Boylan, Mercedes Bresso, Tania González Peñas, Eva Kaili, António Marinho e Pinto, Evelyn Regner, Csaba Sógor, Michaela Šojdrová, Gabriele Zimmer

(1)

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OPINION of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (30.3.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): State of Play and Outlook

(2014/2150(INI))

Rapporteur: Giovanni La Via

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to a simple, clear, harmonised and predictable regulatory framework, expressed in the REFIT programme; underlines that the work foreseen in the REFIT Communication should be part of an ongoing process, ensuring that the legislation in force at European level is fit for purpose, achieving the shared objective of the legislators and meeting the expectations of citizens, businesses and other stakeholders;

2.  Notes the first edition of the annual REFIT scoreboard, which allows for the assessment of progress made in all policy areas and of each initiative identified by the Commission, including actions taken by the European Parliament and the Council; believes that the scoreboard should be complemented with an annual statement of the net costs and benefits of European legislation adopted and repealed by the European Union, in order to provide a more complete assessment of the progress being made in addressing unnecessary red tape and a recognition by the Commission that often the cumulative cost of regulation is the problem for businesses;

3.  Welcomes the Commission’s announcement that, in reviewing existing and planned legislation, it will take account of the particular interests of micro-companies and SMEs and apply lighter regimes to such companies in the form of exemptions and simplifications;

4.  Considers it inappropriate to introduce blanket exemptions from legislation for SMEs; takes the view that proposals which permit the option of lighter regimes and exemptions should be assessed on a case-by-case basis;

5.  Stresses the Commission’s estimate that up to one third of the administrative burden linked to EU legislation stems from national implementing measures or flexible transposition options; calls on the Commission, therefore, in reviewing the legal framework of regulations and directives, to promote a revival of the principle of the common internal market and, wherever possible, to avoid allowing scope for differing national provisions;

6.  Supports the aim of cutting red tape and removing unnecessary regulatory burdens, as this can help deliver proportionate and evidence-based protections for citizens; expresses, however, its concern about potential deregulation, in particular in the fields of the environment, food safety, health and consumer rights, under the guise of ‘cutting red tape’; requests the Commission to take the benefits of environmental and health legislation for citizens, the economy and the environment and public health fully into account when assessing the administrative burden of regulations, whilst sustaining and enhancing the EU’s competitiveness; underlines in this regard that the quality of legislation is the appropriate benchmark for evaluation, as opposed to the number of legislative acts; recalls Member States’ regulatory independence in cases where EU law provides only for minimum standards; calls on the Commission not to lower its level of ambition, and calls for public policy objectives, including environmental and health standards, not to be jeopardised;

7.  Stresses that certain administrative burdens are necessary if the objectives of the legislation and the required level of protection are to be complied with appropriately, in particular with regard to the environment and protection of public health, sectors in which information requirements must be maintained;

8.  Highlights the consistently strong support expressed by European citizens for EU action on the environment; stresses that the work of regulatory simplification (REFIT), in particular in the context of the Commission work programme, must not be taken as a pretext for lowering the level of ambition on issues of vital importance to the protection of the environment;

9.  Recalls that four members of the High Level Group on Administrative Burden, those representing the views of workers, public health, the environment and consumers, adopted a dissenting opinion with regard to the Final Report of the High Level Group of 24 July 2014(1);

10.  Underlines that simpler, smarter regulation leads to consistent transposition and more effective and uniform enforcement by Member States;

11.  Points out that 32 % of administrative burdens of EU origin are the result of the decision of some Member States to go beyond what is required by EU legislation and of inefficiency in their administrative procedures1; notes that it is therefore vital to avoid ‘gold-plating’, i.e. introducing, when transposing EU directives, additional requirements and burdens over and above those laid down by EU law; ‘gold-plating’ increases complexity and the costs which have to be borne by local and regional authorities and public and private companies; takes the view that an EU-wide definition of ‘gold-plating’ is required so as to guarantee certainty in the application of EU law and allow those countries which deny ‘gold-plating’ to be judged;

12.  Believes that the Commission should publish provisional impact assessments, in particular to accompany public consultations, setting out the full range of impacts that the proposed options could have;

13.  Reminds the Commission of Parliament’s requests that the independence of the Impact Assessment Board (IAB) be strengthened and, in particular, that members of the IAB must not be subject to political control; considers that the IAB should be composed only of appropriately qualified people who are competent to assess the analysis presented as regards relevant economic, social and environmental impacts;

14.  Stresses that a survey of unnecessary burdens and costs by those who are subject to them can be a vital complement to the cost-benefit analysis, which is why consultations and public debate are essential and should be strengthened by the Commission;

15.  Opposes the setting of a net target for reducing regulatory costs, as this unnecessarily reduces the range of instruments available for addressing new or unresolved issues, and ignores the corresponding benefits of regulation;

16.  Opposes the concept of offsetting new regulatory ‘burdens’ by removing existing ‘burdens’; if an existing rule creates an unnecessary burden or is outdated, it should be removed; if it is serving a useful purpose where the benefits outweigh the burden, it should not be removed just because a new measure has been taken elsewhere;

17.  Underlines that when evaluations and fitness checks of environmental, food safety and health legislation are carried out, qualitative environmental and health considerations must be given the same weight as quantitative socio-economic considerations, taking into account analysis conducted under the impact assessment procedures; points out that, unlike business costs, long-term benefits for the environment and public health are often more difficult to quantify;

18.  Stresses that, when these evaluations and fitness checks are carried out in the case of environmental legislation, account should also be taken of the importance of a level playing field within Europe, with regulations being implemented and complied with in the same way in the various Member States;

19.  Highlights the importance of avoiding legislative duplication;

20. Supports the continued improvement in impact assessments, ex-ante and ex-post, fostering evidence-based policy-making;

21.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the effectiveness and raise the profile of the EU Pilot mechanism, which is designed to provide quick and exhaustive answers to questions from citizens and businesses on EU legislation; stresses that most EU Pilot questions concern infringements relating to waste and to environmental impact assessment requirements, which are key areas for public health and the environment;

22.  Reiterates that the Commission has previously acknowledged that environmental standards and progressive regulation do not constitute a hindrance for the economy, but rather an advantage for economic growth and job creation;

23.  Calls on the Commission to review its evaluation guidelines by stepping up the participation and consultation of stakeholders and using the most direct method in order to enable EU citizens to take part in decision-making;

24.  Emphasises that high-level environmental and public health protection creates innovations and opportunities for businesses and therefore benefits the European economy, especially for SMEs in the context of the transition towards a sustainable green economy with a focus on a more energy-self-sufficient Europe;

25.  Underlines the fact that the EU’s environment policy has stimulated innovation and investment in environmental goods and services, generating jobs and export opportunities;

26.  Highlights the fact that risk management and science are the basis for environmental and health protection in EU legislation;

27.  Notes that the Commission is undertaking a Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives; emphasises that these directives are the cornerstone of Europe’s efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and restore degraded ecosystems, and that their regulatory framework is both flexible and modern and is a framework within which business can adapt and operate successfully;

28.  Opposes in this context the reopening of the Birds and Habitats Directives;

29.  Notes with astonishment the Commission’s withdrawal of the proposals on the revision of waste legislation and on transparency in health-related legislation; notes with concern the Commission’s announcement of its intention to modify the proposal on the reduction of national emissions without giving further details; deplores the fact that the proposal for the two withdrawals was announced without presenting any analysis or evidence to justify it nor was there any preceding consultation of the co-legislators and stakeholders; stresses the Commission´s stated commitment, as stipulated in its Work Programme 2015, to considering the view of the European Parliament and the Council before finalising its decision on its Work Programme 2015, especially the withdrawal of legislation; underlines the fact that in several votes in plenary the majority of MEPs expressed their support for maintaining the Circular Economy package unchanged on the table; deeply regrets the fact that the Commission has nevertheless withdrawn the proposal on the revision of waste legislation, and deplores the unnecessary waste of time and resources caused by this withdrawal; deplores the Commission’s announcement of its intention to withdraw its proposal on a reviewed energy taxation directive;

30.  Recalls the findings of the High Level Group on Administrative Burdens report ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe’, which does not list environmental legislation among the most burdensome; urges the Commission to keep these findings in mind when considering whether to withdraw or withhold further environmental proposals; stresses in this regard that the same report found that environmental regulation only contributes 1 % to the total amount of unnecessary administrative burden;

31.  Considers that the legitimacy of the REFIT programme hinges on separating those issues which pertain to regulatory fitness and efficiency from the political aim of the regulation and the inherent trade-offs between stakeholders, which is the responsibility of the lawmakers; with regard to the REFIT actions foreseen in the Commission Work Programme of 2015, Annex 3 in the fields of Climate Action and Energy, Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Health and Food Safety, and Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, underlines the importance of limiting the scope of those actions to simplification and the fact that public policy objectives should not be undermined;

32.  Calls on the Commission not to carry out stand-alone and one-sided cumulative cost assessments in addition to REFIT, as intended for example in the case of the most relevant EU legislation and policies for the European chemicals industry, and instead to integrate this aspect into the general Fitness Check so as to ensure a balanced approach that also takes into consideration the benefits of the legislation concerned;

33.  Calls on the Commission, in view of the serious and persistent problems which arise in the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, including problems of distortion of competition, to review the scientific basis of this regulation and how useful and realistic it is and, if appropriate, to eliminate the concept of nutrient profiles; considers that the aims of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, such as ensuring that information which is provided concerning foods is true and that specific indications are given concerning fat, sugar and salt content, have now been attained by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers;

34.  Calls on the Commission to take the outcome of the work of European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water’ seriously, and to ensure that its proposals are implemented to the general satisfaction of all stakeholders and, in particular, all European citizens;

35.  Expects the Commission to carry out a structured consultation, including with the European Parliament, prior to the announcement of any withdrawal of a Commission proposal;

36.  Emphasises the Commission’s obligation under the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission to provide a detailed explanation in due time before withdrawing any proposals on which Parliament has already expressed a position at first reading, as is the case for the Transparency Directive on the pricing and reimbursement of medicinal products;

37.  Deplores the fact that the Commission did not act as a facilitator in the negotiations on a new directive on plastic bags, and even threatened publicly to withdraw its proposal shortly before the conclusion of an agreement by the co-legislators in the name of ‘better regulation’;

38.  Reminds the Commission of the prerogatives of the co-legislators in the legislative procedure and urges the Commission to respect the co-legislators right to amend Commission proposals; also recalls the co-legislators’ responsibility to adhere to principles of better regulation, and in particular the interinstitutional agreements; further considers that a revision of the interinstitutional agreement on better lawmaking is overdue and welcomes initiatives by the Commission to begin negotiations to update this agreement;

39.  Believes that where legislation is proposed in a complex and multifaceted field, a second stage of consultation should be envisaged whereby a draft legislative act is published, accompanied by a provisional impact assessment, for comment by all relevant stakeholders; considers that this second stage would introduce further rigour into the Commission’s analysis and strengthen the case for any proposal adopted following this process;

40.  Calls on the Commission to extend the mandate of the High Level Group, which expired on 31 October 2014, ensuring that its members are immune from any kind of conflict of interest and that an MEP from the Committee on Legal Affairs also joins the group.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

26.3.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

62

0

6

Members present for the final vote

Marco Affronte, Margrete Auken, Zoltán Balczó, Catherine Bearder, Ivo Belet, Simona Bonafè, Biljana Borzan, Nessa Childers, Alberto Cirio, Birgit Collin-Langen, Miriam Dalli, Seb Dance, Angélique Delahaye, Ian Duncan, Stefan Eck, Bas Eickhout, Eleonora Evi, José Inácio Faria, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Iratxe García Pérez, Elisabetta Gardini, Jens Gieseke, Sylvie Goddyn, Matthias Groote, Andrzej Grzyb, Jytte Guteland, György Hölvényi, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Jean-François Jalkh, Benedek Jávor, Karin Kadenbach, Kateřina Konečná, Giovanni La Via, Peter Liese, Norbert Lins, Valentinas Mazuronis, Susanne Melior, Massimo Paolucci, Gilles Pargneaux, Piernicola Pedicini, Bolesław G. Piecha, Pavel Poc, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Renate Sommer, Dubravka Šuica, Tibor Szanyi, Nils Torvalds, Glenis Willmott, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Damiano Zoffoli

Substitutes present for the final vote

Nicola Caputo, Herbert Dorfmann, Linnéa Engström, Luke Ming Flanagan, Jan Huitema, Karol Karski, Merja Kyllönen, Anne-Marie Mineur, Alessandra Mussolini, James Nicholson, Aldo Patriciello, Marit Paulsen, Bart Staes, Theodor Dumitru Stolojan, Tom Vandenkendelaere

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Marie-Christine Boutonnet, Anthea McIntyre, Emilian Pavel

(1)

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OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (18.3.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT): state of play and outlook

(2014/2150(INI))

Rapporteur: Othmar Karas

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Acknowledges the REFIT Communication and the continued commitment shown by the Commission to the better lawmaking agenda; stresses that the work envisaged in the REFIT Communication should be seen as an ongoing process aimed at ensuring that the legislation in force at European level is fit for purpose, achieving the legislators’ shared objective and meeting the expectations of citizens, businesses and all stakeholders; stresses that the REFIT programme should focus on better regulation and should not undermine gender equality, social, labour, environmental standards or environmental and consumer protection;

2.  Considers that, where the need for action at EU level has been clearly identified and where such action is consistent with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, a careful assessment should be made as to whether a non-legislative or legislative instrument – and, in the case of a legislative instrument, which one – is best suited for achieving the intended political goal, with an emphasis on European added value; considers that a set of indicators for identifying the full compliance and administrative costs of a new legislative act should be applied in order to better assess its impact; stresses that such indicators must be based on clear, comprehensive, quantifiable (where appropriate) and multidimensional criteria, including social, economic and environmental criteria, in order to allow a proper assessment of the implications of action or inaction at EU level;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to be more rigorous in assessing the impact of future and existing regulation on SMEs and on competitiveness in general; believes that an assessment of impact on competitiveness should form a significant part of the impact assessment process; considers that the draft revised guidelines should contain direction as to how impact on competitiveness should be assessed and weighed in the final analysis; supports a standing presumption that proposals with a negative impact on competitiveness should be rejected, unless evidence supporting significant unquantifiable benefits is presented;

4.  Expresses disappointment that the measures identified for review in the scoreboard accompanying the communication are far from new, but rather represent a catalogue of measures which the Commission was obliged to follow owing to expiring review clauses in previously adopted legislation; expects a more ambitious approach from the new Commission to the objectives set out in the REFIT Communication, in particular when it comes to tackling tough issues such as those highlighted in the ‘top ten’ consultation of SMEs;

5.  Considers that the scoreboards concept should be revised and should instead comprise two documents, one outlining a work plan and a second, new one detailing the progress made by the Commission, expressed in quantitative terms; calls for this second document to form the basis of an annual statement of new costs to business, which should be an easily understood statement or ledger of ‘debits and credits’ in terms of the administrative and regulatory impact of proposals adopted in the previous legislative year, as this would be much more useful and would show that the Commission understands that the problem is often the cumulative cost of regulation;

6.  Reiterates careful consideration needs to be given to SMEs in EU legislation; calls on the Commission, with a view to providing evidence of the added value of EU action and its costs and benefits, to recognise the importance of the ‘think small first’ principle in the revised impact assessment guidelines, which should include a mandatory SME test and competitiveness proofing, and to duly analyse the social, environmental and economic impact of proposed legislation;

7.  Points out that the adoption of Commission proposals by the College of Commissioners must be based on a favourable opinion from the Impact Assessment Board indicating that the corresponding impact assessment has been carried out satisfactorily;

8.  Recalls its position on the general exemption of micro-enterprises from EU legislation, as laid down in its resolutions of 23 October 2012 on ‘small and medium size enterprises (SMEs): competitiveness and business opportunities’(1) and of 27 November 2014 on the revision of the Commission’s impact assessment guidelines and the role of the SME test(2), to the effect that exemptions must be assessed on a case-by-case basis for each proposal so as to reflect the policy of reversing the burden of proof, i.e. that micro-enterprises should remain outside the scope of proposals unless it is demonstrated that they should be included; strongly encourages the Commission to build on the progress it has made in this area by continuing to cut the cost of legislation for micro-enterprises and SMEs; draws attention to the recommendations made in its aforementioned resolution of 27 November 2014 on this matter;

9.  Notes that Parliament’s position on the ‘top ten’ consultation process and lightening the burden of EU regulation on SMEs, as set out in its resolution of 17 April 2014 on that subject(3), was that the burdens arising from employment legislation should be reduced and the Working Time Directive fundamentally overhauled, as it is inflexible for micro-enterprises and SMEs; notes, in addition, that in the aforementioned resolution Parliament recommended that low-risk companies not be required to draw up written health and safety assessments, so as to reduce the burdens arising from health and safety legislation;

10.  Notes that up to a third of the administrative burden related to EU legislation stems from national implementing measures, reiterates the importance of ensuring the swift and consistent transposition, implementation and enforcement of legislation, alongside the proposed simplification, and highlights the need to avoid ‘gold-plating’; calls on the Commission to include criteria for assessing excessive national implementing measures with a view to clearly defining national gold-plating in the EU Regulatory Scoreboard, so that such additional innovations in individual Member States are identified as such; stresses that such a definition must respect the right of the Member States to apply stricter standards in cases where EU law only provides for minimum harmonisation;

11.  Believes that better regulation principles should apply to decisions on secondary legislation as well as on primary legislation; calls on the Commission and its agencies, where appropriate, to accompany delegated and implementing acts with a mandatory impact assessment, including consultation with interested parties and stakeholders, whenever the impact of those acts can be expected to be considerable; calls, to this end, for an amendment of the guidelines for implementing acts, in line with the general guidelines for delegated acts; emphasises that the co-legislators should be as specific as possible in Tier 1 legislation about what delegated and implementing acts should accomplish; notes that in Parliament’s resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU Regulatory Fitness and Subsidiarity and Proportionality(4), it urged the Commission to step up its review of the application of the principle of proportionality, especially with regard to the use of Articles 290 and 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on delegated and implementing acts;

12.  Endorses the Commission’s intention to improve evaluations as a central aspect of intelligent legislation; points out that evaluations provide reliable information about the actual impact of laws on their addressees, and calls, in this connection, for the formal and comprehensive participation of the addressees’ stakeholders in the evaluation procedure;

13.  Calls for the renegotiation and updating of the Interinstitutional Agreement on better lawmaking, in order to take account of the Treaty of Lisbon and the framework agreement between Parliament and the Commission and to develop and consolidate best practice in areas such as legislative planning, impact assessments, systematic ex-post evaluations of EU legal provisions, and the implementation and handling of delegated and implementing acts;

14.  Calls on the Commission to introduce a methodology for quantitative targets for reducing administrative burden at European level; notes the positive experiences in some Member States of setting net reduction targets with the aim of lowering compliance costs; asks that this methodology be discussed at the new proposed High Level Group on Administrative Burdens and taken into account in future impact assessments once accepted;

15.  Calls for relevant stakeholders, including the social partners, business associations, consumer protection organisations, environmental and social organisations and national, regional and local authorities, to be more closely involved with checks on subsidiarity and proportionality, administrative burden assessment (including the positive impact as well as the costs generated by compliance with legislation), the choice of legal basis, the regulatory fitness and ex-post evaluation, and the monitoring of the implementation and enforcement of EU legislation at national level; believes that these checks and assessments could be enhanced by the use of peer review by the Member States; welcomes the Commission’s intention to establish a new High Level Group on better regulation, which will include stakeholders and national independent experts under the responsibility of the responsible Vice-President; proposes that this group be given a strong mandate so that it can be an effective and independent advisory body;

16.  Believes that an unbalanced or incomplete impact assessment or the lack of an impact assessment must be considered to be grounds for the potential removal or revision of current EU legislation under the REFIT programme;

17.  Stresses the need for a bottom-up approach to deregulation; calls on the Commission, therefore, to establish a ‘European Stakeholder Forum’ on better regulation and less bureaucracy, with the quantitative goal of reducing administrative burden by 25 % by 2020; emphasises that the forum should comprise relevant stakeholders, including the social partners, consumer organisations and the business community; stresses that proposals from the forum should be actively considered by the Commission, and that the Commission should address these proposals in accordance with the ‘comply or explain’ principle; believes that the forum could serve as a platform for businesses or collective groups working either nationally or across Europe to submit direct inputs which support the better regulation principles or contribute to achieving less bureaucracy in the regulation applicable in their sector;

18.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that consultations with stakeholders are transparent and timely, and that their output is analysed in both quantitative and qualitative terms to ensure that due account is also taken of minority views; considers it critical that stakeholders have the opportunity, at the earliest stages of the legislative process, to comment on unnecessarily burdensome aspects of Commission proposals via a published draft impact assessment submitted to the Impact Assessment Board, at the stage preceding the final legislative proposal and assessment, for instance through the involvement of the future High Level Group of experts on better regulation;

19.  Calls on the Commission to frame the REFIT exercise in, and link it to, the broader context of the definition and implementation of the Commission work programme and key priorities;

20.  Urges the Commission to step up its consultation, both public and private, with all stakeholders, including consumers, when preparing implementing and delegated acts, with a view to considering how better to increase awareness of proposals at a provisional stage; believes firmly that such efforts to increase stakeholders’ input before recommendations are finalised will lead to better legislation; welcomes, in this connection, possible initiatives to compare processes for consulting on provisional rules or standards with those used in other jurisdictions, with a view to developing best practice;

21.  Considers that stakeholders, local and regional authorities and Member States should be more closely involved in identifying specific implementation difficulties at local, regional and national level and should provide feedback to the Commission; calls for the use of indicators for measuring compliance costs as well as the costs of non-regulation (along the lines of the ‘Cost of non-Europe’); calls for these indicators to be comprehensive and suited to assessing the possible benefits and drawbacks, and the costs and savings, of a single market approach, in both qualitative and quantitative terms;

22.  Believes that the assessment of REFIT and further efforts on better regulation should follow the shift towards digitisation of the economy, society and public administration; believes that extensive use of the REFIT tool and the use of fitness checks could also contribute to assessing the coherence and consistency of regulatory areas within the broader framework of the digital single market;

23.  Welcomes the prospective drafting of internal guidelines for improving the quality of consultations and the evaluation thereof; believes that, as regards the complexity of policy choices in any one area, the questions asked during consultations need to be both more specific and worded so as to be clearly understandable; considers that, where legislation is proposed in a complex field, a second stage of consultation should be envisaged whereby a draft legislative act, accompanied by a provisional impact assessment, is published for comment by all relevant stakeholders; considers that this second stage would introduce further rigour into the Commission’s analysis and strengthen the case for any proposal adopted following the process;

24.  Recalls that, during her confirmation hearing, Commissioner Bieńkowska committed the Commission to considering the withdrawal of any proposal where Members find that an impact assessment is flawed or that certain elements have not been given proper consideration; calls on the Commission to confirm in writing that this is the policy of the College of Commissioners as a whole;

25.  Stresses the need to improve EU communication policy with regard to EU legislation, in respect of which the better regulation agenda is a valuable basis for making EU action understandable and tangible; calls on the Commission to further develop the Your Europe portal in cooperation with the Member States in order to give SMEs easy access to practical information, in a multilingual format, on upcoming consultations, relevant EU rules and their application in the Member States;

26.  Welcomes and supports the Commission’s intention to launch, in the medium term, a number of new evaluations and fitness checks of the performance of existing EU regulations and the application of Treaty law, including on late payments.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

17.3.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

12

3

Members present for the final vote

Dita Charanzová, Carlos Coelho, Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Lara Comi, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Daniel Dalton, Dennis de Jong, Pascal Durand, Vicky Ford, Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz, Antanas Guoga, Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Jiří Maštálka, Eva Paunova, Jiří Pospíšil, Virginie Rozière, Christel Schaldemose, Olga Sehnalová, Mylène Troszczynski, Anneleen Van Bossuyt, Marco Zullo

Substitutes present for the final vote

Lucy Anderson, Jussi Halla-aho, Kaja Kallas, Othmar Karas, Emma McClarkin, Jens Nilsson, Julia Reda, Adam Szejnfeld, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Josef Weidenholzer, Kerstin Westphal

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

José Blanco López, Andrea Bocskor, Roger Helmer, György Hölvényi, Emilian Pavel

(1)

OJ C 68 E, 7.3.2014, p. 40.

(2)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0069.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0459.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0061.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

16.6.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

17

2

6

Members present for the final vote

Max Andersson, Joëlle Bergeron, Marie-Christine Boutonnet, Jean-Marie Cavada, Kostas Chrysogonos, Therese Comodini Cachia, Mady Delvaux, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Laura Ferrara, Enrico Gasbarra, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Mary Honeyball, Sajjad Karim, Dietmar Köster, Gilles Lebreton, Jiří Maštálka, Emil Radev, Julia Reda, Pavel Svoboda, József Szájer, Axel Voss

Substitutes present for the final vote

Pascal Durand, Angel Dzhambazki, Jytte Guteland, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Angelika Niebler, Cecilia Wikström

Last updated: 15 March 2016Legal notice